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The Wedding Singer

Date

13th March 2019

Society

Hinchley Manor Operatic Society

Venue

Hampton Hill Theatre

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Helen Wilson

Musical Director

Debbi Lindley

Choreographer

Sarah Jackson

Report

Author: Jon Fox

This upbeat production based on the Adam Sandler movie is set in New Jersey in 1985. Robbie Hart is a much in demand Wedding Singer with his two bandmates Sammy and George as musicians. When Robbie is himself dumped at the altar by Linda, the rest of the story really starts. When Julia is also dumped by her "shark" of a fiancé, Glen, Robbie realises that Julia is the one he truly loves and much of the plot revolves around whether or not he will finally win her for himself.

Michael Leopold as Robbie Hart played the title role with a touching vulnerability, hidden behind an overt panache, showing charisma and a pleasant singing voice. Possessing true leading man looks and charm aplenty, he was admirably cast in this role.

Playing opposite Robbie, the  strikingly pretty Julia Sullivan added still more of the depth and pathos to this show. Hannah Vincent relished this highly rewarding though challenging role and gave a splendid performance - such a vibrant and eye catching player.  Together, Michael and Hannah as lead players elevated what was a fine show and production into something more glorious.  HMOS, though can boast a truly deep level of star performers as this show amply proved.

The scheming Linda was skilfully portrayed to the hilt by Emma Dixon, finally getting her long overdue "come uppance"  and giving a well observed emptiness and real self loathing to her complex character. I really enjoyed Emma's evident stage talents; plural!!

Katy Jackson as Holly is yet another fine and leading performer, this time playing a supporting though important role, showing her all round stage skills. Zak Negri  played the bad guy this time, unusually for Zak, and his fast ripening repertoire of top performances I have seen has ripened still further with the "horrible" Glen Guglia. Zak, you should play more "baddies", you do it so very well!

Scott Topping made much of the brash Sammy, another fine character who developed as the show unfolded. The audience really took to the boyishly naive and slightly camp character of George. Young Jacob Rose who played him is quite clearly a rising star with a natural stage affinity and presence.                       

I had to purr with pleasure and chuckle with laughter at how the youthful Catherine Quinn inhabited the older Grandma Rosie character. Her performance will be one of many abiding memories of this production. Gill Varon as Julia's mum Angie gave another comic cameo delight and must have enjoyed playing her, as the audience  clearly did!

A total of nine people played a myriad of ensemble characters:  several of each, including some celebrity impersonations - all immediately recognisable (even wearing Reagan's jet black wig, Colin Bousfield!) and played full parts in this laugh out loud, but tear your insides out show. That is quite a feat, yet HMOS came through splendidly. We had Cher, Billy Idol, Reagan, Madonna and an unforgettable Mr T.  given by the sinuous, athletic and eye catching Tyrone Haywood, a natural dancer to his fingertips and most definitely his toes!

But this was a musical and I have not yet mentioned the music, the all important music, full of bouncy, melodious and sometimes sad songs. A real tour de force and all the principal characters, plus ensemble gave their all. Some were superb with real quality singing voices;  others merely competent, but not one below a respectable par quality. My personal highlights, though a difficult choice, were "Someday" (plus reprise), "Right in front of your eyes", "If I told you", " Let me come home", "Grow old with me" and both Act one and Act two finales.

A trio of top class production team ladies were the clear inspiration behind this multi faceted production. Helen Wilson, who directed so artfully; Sarah Jackson for inspired and fun choreography and MD Debbi Lindley for the panache, but with firm  control of modulation in the excellent music she provided with her seven strong band.

The show had pace, seamless continuity,  clear and good diction, energy, all important changes of mood, aided by skilful lighting and sound, courtesy of Richard Pike and Stuart Vaughan respectively. A rather clever and most effective set design by Wesley Henderson-Roe and Helen Wilson must be commended too! Kelly Neilson was production manager and Sarah Wood and her "invisible" team stage managed to perfection.   Costumes were suitably colourful and occasionally OTT, but always in keeping with the eighties New Jersey setting.

A well designed and colourful programme with good pictures and a full page about NODA - never a bad idea! - added to the definite "wow" factor and deep sense of satisfaction I felt when I, rather reluctantly, finally left the theatre.

 A production of real quality  HMOS!